The Incomplete Book of Running

Narrated by: Peter Sagal
Length: 5 hrs and 25 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (752 ratings)

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Interview: Audio veteran Peter Sagal shares why his passion for running goes far beyond the physical.

Everything in my life changed and running was sort of this constant. It was something I could keep doing. Something I literally escaped to.

  • The Incomplete Book of Running
  • Everything in my life changed and running was sort of this constant. It was something I could keep doing. Something I literally escaped to.

Publisher's Summary

Peter Sagal, the host of NPR’s Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! and a popular columnist for Runner’s World, shares lessons, stories, advice, and warnings gleaned from running the equivalent of once around the Earth.

At the verge of turning 40, Peter Sagal - brainiac Harvard grad, short, bald Jew with a disposition toward heft, and a sedentary star of public radio - started running seriously. And much to his own surprise, he kept going, faster and further, running 14 marathons and logging tens of thousands of miles on roads, sidewalks, paths, and trails all over the US and the world, including the 2013 Boston Marathon, where he crossed the finish line moments before the bombings.

In this new audiobook, Sagal reflects on the trails, tracks, and routes he’s traveled, from the humorous absurdity of running charity races in his underwear - in St. Louis, in February - or attempting to “quiet his colon” on runs around his neighborhood - to the experience of running as a guide to visually impaired runners and the triumphant post-bombing running of the Boston Marathon in 2014. With humor and humanity, Sagal also writes about the emotional experience of running, body image, the similarities between endurance sports and sadomasochism, the legacy of running as passed down from parent to child, and the odd but extraordinary bonds created between strangers and friends. The result is a funny, wise, and powerful meditation about running and life that will appeal to listeners everywhere. 

©2018 Peter Sagal (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

Featured Article: 20 Best Audiobooks for Running Inspiration


Running can be an arduous task, especially for those who are new to the sport. It can also be a life-giving force for those who are already more involved in the running community. Either way, it’s one of the best athletic ventures to couple with a great audiobook. Listening to the inspirational stories of other runners can be just what you need to push through a difficult jog or set a new personal record. These audiobooks are the perfect partners for your next workout.

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Absolutely excellent.

I am not a runner, I am not athletic and I had honestly somehow never heard of Peter Sagal. How I stumbled across this book doesn't even really make sense. Fate perhaps.

This was the best audio book I have heard to date. Sagal takes us through his childhood, his relationships and his experience with the Boston marathon bombings; all through the lens of his time spent running.

It's a beautiful read that will make you laugh, then cry, and then laugh some more.

I can not recommend this enough.

6 people found this helpful

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First running book I actually enjoyed!

Great stories from a non elite athlete. Any runner will relate and non runners will be inspired. And it’s read by Peter Sagal.

4 people found this helpful

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Loved it.

This book taught me a thing or two about life and running, and it was funny. I didnt know what to expect before I started the book, but I really enjoyed it.

3 people found this helpful

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Fabulous

One of the best things you can listen to on Audible. If you are a runner, the book is doubly fabulous. Highly recommended!

3 people found this helpful

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Brian

Runner or not this is a great book and best as audio as Peter Sagal has a bit of experience behind the microphone. It puts running into perspective from the joys to stomach trouble. I was hooked within the first story of Boston and breezes through the remainder. I was saddened that it had to end, just like a runner might feel when the training is over and the race has ended. I wait for the next book Peter!

1 person found this helpful

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Generally a good story with a few marathons

Book was a nice listen/read. You can tell Peter is a wonderful writer.

Near the middle, the book feels a little inconsiderate in its voice. For example, he a comment about being stupid if one believes in intelligent design, which seemed thrown in there as a general aside and unrelated to the general story.

Overall an interesting story and worth the listen.

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If u like running....

And like Peter Sagal, your gonna like this book too :) it added a whole new dimension to his wait wait persona.

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So enjoyable.

I wish it didn’t end. This book has a great flow and the story telling keeps me interested all the way through. And as a runner it is SO relatable. Love Peter Sagal!

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Poignant and Inspiring

This was an incredible memoir. it inspired me to return to distance running. A great read!

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Meditations on play and sport - Excellent

While both the title and cover are a direct riff on the 1977 classic The Complete Book of Running by James Fixx, Sagal’s book is more solidly in the tradition of the running classics by now-deceased Dr. George Sheehan, who was the philosopher king of the running revolution of the 1970s and 80s. As such, it is a definite must-have in any amateur runner’s bookshelf, physical or digital.

I came across Incomplete during the COVID-19 pandemic, at age 61, when a combination of failing health and the closure of gyms forced me back outdoors for exercise. It’s been 40 years since my college days when I took up (and later discarded) running as a pastime to both shed weight and clear my mind, and as I now began lumbering along the trails outside again (both much heavier and much older), I found Incomplete and added it to my audiobook library to listen while exercising.

In Incomplete, Sagal shares his experience in running at middle age, and how continued running sustained him through a very difficult time of divorce and broken relationships in his life (“In the midpoint of life, I found myself lost, in a dark place” he opens in the Preface). He shares various running stories of both training and racing, including being a guide for sight-impaired marathoners (which brought him perilously close to death during the Boston marathon bombing). The high point of the book is the capstone Afterword, which sums up both running and relationships in the context of love and life.

While I normally prefer to read visually, I’m glad I purchased this in audiobook format. Sagal himself is the narrator, and as might be expected of a radio personality, he does a masterful job. This is without doubt one of the best audiobooks I’ve consumed.

If you’re a runner, if you’re a walker, if you’re considering running, if you think running is lunacy - you’ll find much to enjoy, ponder, and laugh at in this book. I recommend it to everyone, especially if you can listen while running or walking.